Are you happy? Why not? Listen to The Search for Happiness by Tim Keller to find out more.
“Idolatry distorts our feelings. Just as idols are good things turned into ultimate things, so the desires they generate become paralyzing and overwhelming.”
Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller (location 1723 Kindle edition)
There is a grounding effect that happens in our lives as we understand our place in the universe before the holy God. God is not only our sovereign Authority, but also our greatest Treasure; if He is only our sovereign Authority then our faith will be oppressive and marked by duty & obligation. If you see Him as both, your faith will be marked by delight and joy; the latter is the picture the bible paints of authentic faith.
How did we become children of the Creator? We didn’t buy, barter or negotiate our way in to the kingdom of God; we weren’t savvy enough, raised in the right home or more spiritually attuned than others. We received the kingdom without payment, as a poor child, bankrupt, not as an affluent business man; we brought nothing to the table.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3 ESV),
“You received without paying; give without pay.” (Matthew 10:8 ESV),
“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”” (Mark 10:15 ESV).
We grow as God’s children the same way, as we depart from this position of absolute surrendered dependance before God and begin to believe that our growth is up to our own efforts, we have departed from biblical Christianity. We have nothing of any value to offer the King, He is the one that offers us everything. All of our righteous acts (self disciplined, white knuckled) are like filthy rags before a holy God (Isaiah 64:6); thank God that our righteousness is found in Jesus, not in ourselves – both before and AFTER salvation. How do we please God? We please God by faith – “without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:6 ESV). Faith is trust and it is the only human trait that relies upon something outside of a person. So we trust in something (or Someone) else to save and to sustain. The church at Galatia had gotten it backwards as they moved back to morality and behavior modification (law, rules) as the means upon which they depended to change them. Paul emphatically says, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:1–3 ESV).
We obsess on fruit in the church today and point to it as the end goal. Fruit production is not the end goal. Fruit is a byproduct of the end goal. The end goal is believing and knowing Christ (John 6:27-29) and finding Him to be our ultimate treasure (Matthew 13:44). We spend the vast majority of our time talking about fruit (how beautiful it is, how much impact it has, how counter cultural it is). The problem is that we make fruit an idol in our hearts and frustrate the vast majority of saints who realize that they aren’t producing the fruit that they are being told that they should be producing. Why? Because we are not responsible for the fruit production. We need to be constantly reminded that the goal is not the fruit; the fruit is produced as we abide (surrender, depend, trust) in Christ (John 15). This is what we need to be constantly pointed to – depending, trusting, surrendering, knowing, abiding. Then the fruit will take care of itself and God will get the glory for it, not us because we didn’t produce it.
“In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Galatians 4:3–7 ESV)
It is an overwhelming thought that the Creator of all things now calls me a son. Emotions dwell up inside when we think on this. We did nothing to earn it, in fact we were objects of His wrath because of our sinful self-reliant hearts. But now, we are in His family. From enemies to family with an inheritance – let that sink in.
“Their weekly diet in the congregation was often a moral exhortation to be like Jesus, or Paul, or Daniel, or some other super saint in the Bible. They were constantly peppered with the question, “What are you doing for Jesus?” The preaching was not, as it should have been, a proclamation of God’s grace to them because of the finished and atoning death of Christ-God’s grace for them as Christians. That emphasis is desperately needed. But the only way we can recover this message is by ceasing to read the Scriptures as a recipe book for Christian living, and instead find within the Scriptures Christ who died for us and who is the answer to our unchristian living.”
–Dr. Rod Rosenbladt (here)
“Jesus says that the root of anxiety is inadequate faith in our Father’s future grace. As unbelief gets the upper hand in our hearts, one of the effects is anxiety. The root cause of anxiety is a failure to trust all that God has promised to be for us in Jesus.” Battling Unbelief by John Piper (page 25, see Matthew 6:25-34)
“A transaction with Jesus in the past that has no ongoing expression in our lives was a false transaction.” What Jesus Demands from the World by John Piper (page 62)
“Like Luther, sometimes we approach the need for personal change as if each step of obedience were one more stair to climb in the attempt to gain peace with God. We pursue holiness for grace, not from grace. But this reverses the order of the gospel. You will never get traction in your transformation until your feet are firmly planted in the freedom of God’s justifying grace in Christ. The purpose of this chapter is to unpack the doctrine of justification by faith and show how embracing the truth of justification counters a performance-based, legalistic approach to the pursuit of transformation.”
Exerted from Christ Formed in You: The Power of The Gospel for Personal Change by Brian Hedges (Kindle edition location 933)